Gossip Sites Lose, News Numbers Rise

Visitors to African American-oriented websites upended the pecking order in December, according to the comScore Inc. research company, ending the long run of the lurid gossip site MediaTakeOut.com as champion eyeball magnet.

That distinction, for now, goes to the website of Black Entertainment Television.

Moreover, the newsier sites HuffPost BlackVoices, theGrio.com, theRoot.com, Essence.com and NewsOne, along with MadameNoir.com, all saw increases from the October statistics, while the more gossipy Bossip.com declined, as did HelloBeautiful.com and BlackPlanet.com.

Luis Defrank, a spokesman for BET, attributed BET.com's boost to tie-ins with the cable network. Unique visitors rose from 2,531,000 in October to 3,649,000 in December, according to comScore.


"The rise of these numbers is timed to when we launched some of our original scripted programming that includes 'Reed Between The Lines' and began sneak peeks of 'The Game' and 'Let's Stay Together,' " Defrank said by email. "On the social media front we received a lot of transaction with our tent-pole events such as the 'Hip Hop Awards.' Our tent-pole events are productions such as the BET Awards, BET Honors and Rip The Runway. These shows offer original content and celebrity-filled moments that engage our audience on our various digital platforms which helps increase traffic to the website."

HuffPost BlackVoices increased from 1,790,000 in October to 2,604,000 in December. TheGrio.com, owned by NBC, rose from 1,288,000 in October to 1,603,000 in December.

Mario Ruiz, spokesman for Huffington Post, did not respond to a request for comment.

But David Wilson, executive editor of theGrio.com, told Journal-isms by email, "TheGrio's continued traffic growth is a direct result of our decision to produce more enterprise reports. Our series on the 'Black 1 Percent,' our special report on the impact of South Carolina's voter ID laws, and our 'Living Forward' series, which highlights black celebs and their philanthropic work, are just a few examples of this effort.


"We've also strengthened our editorial team by hiring our political editor Perry Bacon Jr. and adding regional reporters. NBC News, MSNBC and msnbc.com are increasingly looking to the theGrio for our unique content, which results in more exposure on-air and online. Finally, social media has been a huge part of our growth. Our Facebook page, which has nearly 400,000 highly engaged fans, provides another way for us to drive traffic back to our website. Upcoming partnerships and initiatives promise to make 2012 yet another year of growth for theGrio.com."

Traffic for Bossip.com declined from 1,602,000 unique visitors in October to 1,433,000 in December. At theRoot.com, owned by the Washington Post Co., the comScore figures showed an increase from 1,342,000 in October to 1,408,000 in December. However, Donna Byrd, publisher of theRoot.com, said by email, "There is a discrepancy between internal numbers and Comscore numbers for most sites, including ours."


Managing Editor Sheryl Salomon said of the increase, "The Root’s growth in December was a result of organic viral traffic stemming from our timely news coverage and original features. Our exclusive survey on current views about Kwanzaa, and a companion slide show, helped to drive December’s numbers."

When the Wire, a website from businessinsider.com, last year compiled "the 50 most influential people in media this year," the only two African Americans on its list were Oprah Winfrey and Fred Mwangaguhunga, the former corporate lawyer who founded MediaTakeOut.com.


Mwangaguhunga did not respond to a request for comment. However, in August, answering a question about his success, he said, "We've grown our audience organically, by continuing to put out the biggest news stories in urban entertainment."

Figures provided to Journal-isms for other sites included: MadameNoire.com, 1,383,000 unique visitors in December, up from 1,132,000 in October; Essence.com, 988,000 in December, up from 845,000 in October; HelloBeautiful.com, 625,000 in December, down from 779,000 in October; NewsOne, 604,000 in December, up from 556,000 in October; BlackPlanet.com, 480,000, down from 776,000 in October; EURWeb.com, 352,000, up from 194,000 in October; ConcreteLoop.com, 314,000, up from 304,000 in October. The Ebonyjet.com website, redesigned this week, drew 41,000 unique visitors in December.


Narisetti Leaving Washington Post for Wall Street Journal

Raju Narisetti, one of the Washington Post's two managing editors and an advocate of diversity, is leaving the Post after three years to return to the Wall Street Journal, where he will be managing editor of the Wall Street Journal Digital Network, the two news organizations announced Friday.


The digital network "includes WSJ.com, SmartMoney.com, MarketWatch and the Chinese, Japanese and German-language editions of WSJ.com. Mr. Narisetti will also become a Deputy Managing Editor of the Journal, and he will report to Alan Murray, Deputy Managing Editor and Executive Editor, Online," the Journal announcement said.

"Mr. Narisetti currently serves as Managing Editor for The Washington Post, where he oversees the company’s digital content products, staff and strategy. Today’s appointment marks a return to the Journal for Mr. Narisetti, who first joined the paper in 1994 as a reporter in Pittsburgh and most recently served as Editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe in 2006."


At the Post, Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli, who worked with Narisetti at the Journal, said, "Raju has accomplished much in the three years since he came to the Post from Mint, a business newspaper and website he founded in India. He was closely involved in the redesign of our print edition in 2009; oversaw the selection and installation of Methode, the content-management system we use to edit and produce our news products; and has taken a leading role in the integration of our print and digital staffs and operations.

"But that understates dramatically his role. Raju has helped to build an extravagantly talented digital team and provided much of the vision and strategy that enabled The Post to become one of the most innovative and successful digital-news operations anywhere.


"The evidence is in the numbers: The Post’s online traffic has risen sharply in the last two years, with our page views in December up 45% from a year earlier, the number of visitors to our site up 14%, and the time each visitor spends on our site more than double what it was a year ago (according to comScore) — making 2011 our best year ever. We are a leader in the use of social media for delivering news and drawing readers to our site. Our video traffic has tripled in the last two years and our mobile visits doubled in the last year."

Narisetti has his detractors. In 2010, Harry Jaffe wrote in  Washingtonian magazine, "Narisetti is nearly silent in the newsroom and has made little effort to relate to reporters. He declined many requests for an interview.


"What’s known is that Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli hired Narisetti for a purpose. Both had worked at the Wall Street Journal, where they met and forged a bond. With Brauchli’s backing, Narisetti is seen as the outsider he hopes will retool the Post newsroom for journalism’s digital age." Some Post newsroom workers revile the Methode content management system. Media blogger Jim Romenesko anonymously quoted another detractor, but others rose to his defense.

Nevertheless, Narisetti, of South Asian Indian background, has long been an advocate of diversity. In 2005, when he was named editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe and European editor of the "global" Journal, he told Journal-isms, "I remain very interested in increasing diversity in both editing and reporting ranks, and again I tend to measure it on a more complicated scale, including ethnic, sexual, linguistic and geographical diversity."


At the Post, he was also proud of the diversity at the top ranks of the Post newsroom. Narisetti met his African American wife, Kim Narisetti, while at the Dayton Daily News in Ohio. She is a freelancer who has been an editor at Advertising Age, The Source, TheStreet.com and the Journal.

Brauchli said in his staff memo that for the time being, "those people who have been reporting to Raju will for now report to me." Narisetti leaves Feb. 1. 


Steven Mufson, Washington Post: Post managing editor to join Wall Street Journal

Gingrich: Work Seems "Distant Concept" to Juan Williams

"Newt Gingrich launched a now-infamous tirade against moderator Juan Williams during Monday night’s GOP debate after Williams dared to ask him if he could understand why some African-Americans were offended by Gingrich’s obsession with food stamps and child labor," Alex Seitz-Wald wrote Friday for thinkprogress.org. " 'No, I don’t see that,' Gingrich sneered back.


"Williams later insisted he wasn’t offended by Gingrich’s pointed defense, but did say his food stamps rhetoric is 'very racial and…unless I missed it, black people haven’t been out there demanding food stamps, or marching for food stamps.'

"Today, during a campaign stop in South Carolina, Gingrich recalled his exchange with Williams and used the same kind of suggestive language that Williams had objected to — this time directed at Williams himself:

"GINGRICH: I had a very interesting dialogue Monday night in Myrtle Beach with Juan Williams about the idea of work, which seemed to Juan Williams to be a strange, distant concept. . . ."


Meanwhile, Mary C. Curtis wrote for the "She the People" section of the Washington Post website: "Among the loudest of Juan Williams’ champions when he was booted from NPR were conservatives who criticized the news executives Williams described as 'elitist.' The mainstream media masters, it was said, could not abide a black man with an opinion that deviated from the liberal script. After being fired from NPR, Williams landed new fans, a book contract and a $2 million job at Fox News.

"But in one moment, at Monday night’s South Carolina Republican debate — on a day celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King — the cheers turned to boos for that same man when he deviated from a different script. When he asked candidate Newt Gingrich about the racial impact of his criticism of poor Americans’ work ethic and his 'food stamp' attacks on President Obama, Williams found out what it was like to go from hero to black bogeyman."


Separately, "On an episode of her 'Both Sides Now With Huffington [&] Matalin' radio program, multimillionaire Arianna Huffington decided to take the First Lady to task for not being Black enough," Kirsten West Savali wrote Wednesday for NewsOne.com. "Of course, she didn’t say, 'Black enough,' she just said that Michelle Obama should be more like former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and visit 'South Central.' ”

Chris Ariens, TVNewser: ABC News Refutes Newt Gingrich Side of the Story  

Michael Calderone, Huffington Post: 2012 GOP Primary: How The Media Shaped Mitt Romney's 'Inevitable'  


Esther Cepeda, Chicago Sun-Times: 2012: Another year of politics wiping us out  

Michael H. Cottman, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Analysis: Obama Targeting Black Glitterati  


Wayne Dawkins, politicsincolor.com: Yeah, pretty rough, but Newt, ‘you know it’s true’  

Juan Gonzalez, Daily News, New York: Occupy Wall Street looms over wins vs. SOPA bill, oil pipeline and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker  


Frank James, NPR: Gingrich, Santorum Shine, Romney Doesn't At Last Debate Before S.C. Primary  

Annette John-Hall, Philadelphia Inquirer: Food-stamp crackdown is no way to celebrate Dr. King  


Allen Johnson blog, News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.: Newt's short memory

JTA: Atlanta Jewish Times owner apologizes for Obama assassination scenario  

Merrill Knox, TVNewser: Cable News Plans for South Carolina Primary  

Michael Kranish and Scott Helman with Terry Gross on "Fresh Air," NPR: A New Book Examines 'The Real Romney'  


Jerry Large, Seattle Times: Snow comes and goes, but this poor issue lingers  

Melissa Mack, WXIA-TV Atlanta: FACT CHECK: Gingrich's food-stamp claim 

Roland S. Martin, Creators Syndicate: So Long to the Party of Family Values  

Jack Mirkinson, Huffington Post: John King On Newt Gingrich's Attack: Question Choice Was 'My Decision, And Mine Alone' (Video)  


Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Blessed be the bellicose? Jesus would weep  

Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Would today's GOP elect Reagan?  

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Republicans with a one-track mind  

Albor Ruiz, Daily News, New York: Romney’s embrace of anti-immigrant activist killing hopes of winning Latino vote  


Mary Sanchez, Kansas City Star: Court ruling equating money with speech still rankles

Mary Sanchez, Kansas City Star: Ron Paul: The Great Contrarian 

Marisa Treviño, Latina Lista blog: From one defender of undocumented immigrants to another, Perry’s endorsement of Gingrich makes sense 


Jesse Washington, Associated Press: Food Stamp Recipients Wish Critics Would Walk in Their Shoes

WSB Radio, Atlanta: Herman Cain returns to News/Talk WSB

Univision Names Analysts for Election-Cycle Coverage

"Univision Communications, the leading media company serving Hispanic America, is bolstering its news presence and enhancing its political coverage for the 2012 election cycle," the network announced on Friday.


"In addition to extensive interactive and on-air coverage, Univision’s award-winning news division will count with political commentary from analysts Helen Aguirre Ferré (R), Dr. Emilio Gonzalez (R) and Fabian Nuñez (D).

"Furthermore, Univision will unveil new state of the art sets for all editions of its evening newscast 'Noticiero Univision'; for its Sunday morning public affairs show, 'Al Punto' (To the Point); and for its newsmagazine program, 'Aquí y Ahora' (Here and Now), as well as expand its offerings on digital platforms."


What Billie Holiday Told Etta James About Hands

"In 1997, then Vibe Editor in Chief Danyel Smith sent me to the Sofitel in midtown Manhattan to interview Etta James," dream hampton wrote Friday for Ebony.com.


"Etta was preparing to release her 19th studio album 'Love's Been Rough On Me.' She'd also completed the interviews with David Ritz that would become her 1998 collaborative autobiography, 'Rage To Survive.' She was self-conscious of her appearance, she was still holding onto weight she'd eventually lose, but she acknowledged she was insecure about it aloud and proceeded to disarm me with a story from her early days as a teenage rising star.

"She told me the one time she met [Billie] Holiday was at a radio station, that she was on her way in and Billie was on her way out. Etta was so intimidated by Billie, so unprepared for this moment in the small anteroom of a broadcasting station, that she fixed her eyes on Billie's hands. She remembered Billie's hands were swollen 'like fat little sausages' and that Billie noticed Ella staring at them as she unsuccessfully tried stuffing her fingers in her gloves. Billie palmed Etta's famously round face and tilted her gaze to meet her own and slurred a warning Etta told me she'd never forget. 'Don't you let them do this to you, you hear. My fingers are pumped full of junk and drink, just like my toes. Don't you let this be you girl.' . . . "


James, "the earthy blues and R&B singer whose anguished vocals convinced generations of listeners that she would rather go blind than see her love leave, then communicated her joy upon finding that love at last, died Friday morning, said her son, Donto James," Randy Lewis wrote Friday for the Los Angeles Times. "She was 73.

"She died of complications from leukemia at a hospital in Riverside, said Dr. Elaine James, her personal physician." 


Paul Devlin, theRoot.com: Remembering Etta James

Craig Silverman, Poynter Institute: Daily Mail wins the award for worst Etta James obit headline


Gwendolyn Thompkins, "Weekend Edition Saturday," NPR: Good Times Or Bad, Etta James Kept Love Going [Jan. 21]

Oakland Tribune, Maynard Institute Get Grant for "Voices"

"The Oakland Tribune plans to reshape and expand the way it reports about the community with the help of a $340,000 grant from The California Endowment," Angela Woodall wrote Wednesday for the Tribune.


"The grant awarded in December 2011 by the foundation will be shared by the Tribune and the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, which have collaborated in a variety of projects, including the community reporting program 'Oakland Voices.'

"The California Endowment also underwrote the launch of that program.

" 'So often we filter community voices through journalism,' said Dori Maynard, president of the Maynard Institute. 'Oakland Voices has allowed people to come in and tell their stories about the issues that impact their lives and communities.'


". . . The increased funding will also help the Tribune delve deeper into the impact of violence and trauma on Oakland residents and others areas of Alameda and Contra Costa counties by renewing a fellowship for reporter Scott Johnson. The grant will allow Johnson to further explore issues that affect Bay Area residents, such as inequities based on geography and income."

Dow Jones News Fund: Dow Jones News Fund Awards $432,000 in 2012 Grants

Was Pulled Strip Making Valid Point About Eyewitnesses?

" 'Okay, I know how bad it sounds, but they all really do look alike to me…' said the cartoon rabbit to police after viewing a 'line-up' of several animals depicted on the other side of a glass partition," David Protess, president of the Chicago Innocence Project, wrote Thursday in the Huffington Post.


"Was the bunny racially insensitive? Did his comment invoke the cliché that all blacks look alike, or worse, that all black criminal suspects are indistinguishable?

"Apparently, the Cleveland [Plain Dealer] thought so. On January 13, the editors pulled the popular comic strip, 'Non Sequitur,' from the newspaper. In its place was a note that said the strip 'was deemed objectionable.'


"Hundreds of angry readers found this decision objectionable, voicing their complaints in online posts that excoriated the paper for 'outright censorship.' . . . .

"I'm with the readers on this — but for reasons that go beyond the ones they articulated. If anything, I think Wiley Miller's satirical strip didn't go nearly far enough to make the point: Eyewitnesses (the bunny, in this case) are abysmally inaccurate in identifying perpetrators who look different from themselves. For this reason, I would have supported running the strip even if the bunny was white and the suspects behind the glass were black. . . . ' "


Julie Moos, Poynter Institute: Cleveland Plain Dealer readers confused by decision to pull Non Sequitur comic

Ethiopian Editor, Publishing in U.S., Convicted in Absentia

'"Two journalists and a U.S.-based blogger who was tried in absentia were convicted on charges of terrorism in Ethiopia today and could be sentenced to the death penalty, according to news reports," the Committee to Protect Journalists reported on Thursday.


"Reeyot Alemu, a columnist with the independent weekly Feteh, Deputy Editor Woubshet Taye of the now-defunct weekly Awramba Times, and Elias Kifle, exiled editor of the Washington-based opposition website Ethiopian Review, were convicted today in Federal High Court in the capital, Addis Ababa, according to news reports.

". . . Kifle was sentenced in absentia to life in prison in 2007 on charges of treason over critical online coverage of the government's brutal repression of the 2005 post-election protests, according to CPJ research."


Claire Beston, Amnesty International’s Ethiopia researcher, said, "There is no evidence that these three men and two women are guilty of any criminal wrongdoing. We believe that the five are prisoners of conscience, prosecuted because of their legitimate work and peaceful activities and they should be released immediately."

Kifle's Ethiopian Review lists a mailing address in Springfield, Va., in the Washington suburbs.


Ethiopian Review: Elias Kifle is convicted

Short Takes

**"Oprah Winfrey's first visit to India brought delighted coverage by the Indian media. Her meetings and tweetings with Bollywood stars, her bright orange sari, and her trips to slums and to the Taj Mahal were lovingly detailed by newspapers and TV outlets in that country," Kristin Jones wrote Thursday for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "Their love was not reciprocated, at least not by Winfrey's security detail. Police today detained three local bodyguards protecting Winfrey after they allegedly damaged journalists' video equipment in a scuffle, according to international and local news reports." Winfrey told the Hindustan Times it would be her last visit to India.


**"Daniella Guzman is joining NBC-owned WMAQ Chicago as co-anchor of its weekday morning newscasts starting in March, the station announced today," TVNewsCheck reported on Thursday. "Guzman joins the station from KPRC Houston where she has been a weekend anchor and general assignment reporter since 2006."

**"Virginian-Pilot newspaper Publisher Maurice Jones in September delivered the sort of somber news heard lately in newsrooms across the country: more layoffs, a move he called 'difficult and painful,' " Jim McElhatton reported Wednesday in the Washington Times. "Weeks later, Mr. Jones — by then President Obama’s nominee for deputy secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) — filed a government ethics form showing he had received more than a quarter-million dollars in bonus compensation from January 2010 until October 2011." The Virginian Pilot ran its own, less critical story on Friday.


**"About 100 Hawaiian-language newspapers published from 1834 to 1948 are being translated by roughly 3,000 volunteers," Heidi Kulicke wrote Dec. 29 for Editor & Publisher. "The newspapers are currently housed in Hawaiian archival collections as originals and microfilmed images, but when the project is finished, more than 60,000 pages of daily life in the Hawaiian Kingdom will be available for viewing on the Internet." The Hawaiian nonprofit organization Awaiaulu Inc. is conducting the project.

**"Jennifer Jordan, a veteran of the New York TV market, is on the move," Richard Huff reported Thursday for the Daily News in New York. "Jordan, a native of upstate Peekskill, has landed a job as noon anchor" at WJW, "the Fox affiliate in Cleveland. She starts there Jan. 30."


**"Twelve journalists from diverse backgrounds have been named Chips Quinn Scholars for spring 2012 by the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute and participating news organizations," the institute announced Friday. "This year marks the 21st anniversary of the Chips Quinn Scholars program, which began with six scholars in 1991."

**CBS Radio is scheduled to debut an all-news format on Monday on 99.1 FM in Washington, D.C., competing with WTOP for the ears of Washington area residents. Asked whether the new WNEW employed journalists of color, News Director Michelle Komes-Dolge said of course, then asked to end the call when asked to identify them.


**"A lawyer who served as a newspaper source was killed in Honduras on Jan. 17, three days after speaking out against police abuse and torture, reported the freedom of expression organization C-Libre," the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas reported Thursday. "Lawyer José Ricardo Rosales told the newspaper El Tiempo on Jan. 14 that police were torturing detainees and fondling female prisoners in the coastal city of Tela, in northern Honduras, reported the Associated Press."

**"A television reporter covering the aftermath of coordinated terrorist attacks in northern Nigeria was gunned down this afternoon, according to local journalists and news reports," the Committee to Protect Journalists reported on Friday. "Enenche Akogwu, 31, a reporter and video camera operator with independent broadcaster Channels TV, was shot by unidentified gunmen as he attempted to interview witnesses of a deadly terrorist attack in Kano, capital of Kano state, Channels TV regional news editor Bashir Adigun told CPJ."


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Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (www.mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.

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